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‘The land of the long white cloud’ is wild and freezing at one end and Mediterranean-like at the other, but its hospitality is a constant throughout.
North Island is a land of contrasts. Auckland, the ‘City of Sails’, is famed for its harbourside living, cosmopolitan nightlife and multicultural cuisine, especially fresh seafood. The atoll-peppered seascape of the Bay of Islands on the northern tip is a marine playground, most popular with dolphin and whale-spotters from October to May. Otherworldly Rotorua and its surrounding moonscape bubbles with volcanic activity day and night. Immersed in the classic ‘rotten egg’ sulphuric smell, you’ll be stopped in your tracks by belching mud pools and erupting thermal geysers.
Via the capital, Wellington, catch the car ferry to reach South Island and its spine-like Southern Alps. This is prime skiing and extreme sport country, with white-river-rafting and bungee jumping the adventurers’ favourites. Glaciers and precipitous cliffs plunge from the heavens into glassy fiords, ravines and lakes; unlike its antipodean neighbour, New Zealand’s high rainfall feeds endless flowing rivers.
Immortalised by Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the majestic mountainscapes of the Remarkables (near Queenstown) and iconic Milford Sound live up to their fame. But drivers mustn’t miss the road trip from Christchurch to the astounding Arthur’s Pass National Park, past snow-tipped peaks towering at 2,400m.
The unique diversity of New Zealand’s wildlife attracts many Europeans, particularly the Fiordland crested penguins, the rare flightless kakapo bird and the endemic Hooker’s sea lion – the world’s rarest. Sadly, threatened with extinction, spotting the nocturnal kiwi in the wild is difficult, but they are protected at many shelters throughout the country.
Historically, New Zealand is still in its youth, but its traditional Maori culture remains strong and vibrant. This is a peaceful country, and exploring it by car showcases a film-set of ever-changing scenery.
New Zealand’s weather is often described as having ‘four seasons in one day’, so ensure you have swimwear, sunscreen, raincoat, brolly and jumper packed in your car.
EveryCarHire.com offers car rental from most airports and cities within both North and South Island.
Why not charter a yacht in New Zealand, for Yacht Charters in New Zealand visit CosmosYachts.com at Yacht Charter New Zealand